Easing the Spring
December 8, 2004 1:51 PM   Subscribe

The Poetry of Henry Reed Available online, not just his poems (including his most famous "Naming of Parts") but also audio of him reading, biography, drama, and criticism. Need a recommendation? Sophomore Clifford R. of my English Ten class proclaimed "Naming of Parts" as "wickedly, pathetically awesome!"
posted by John of Michigan (5 comments total)
And that gets two thumbs up from me.
I'd read "Naming of parts" before, and really loved the poem. The MP3 lets it down a little. It should have been read by one person only methinks.
posted by seanyboy at 2:55 PM on December 8, 2004

Thanks for posting this John, I haven't had time time to explore the site yet, but that poem, I first read it 25 years ago, and it has been in my my mind ever since. I only recently found out who it was by. Before I had mistakenly attributed it to Keith Douglas , another WWII poet whose work, such as How To Kill is quite something.
posted by aisforal at 4:45 PM on December 8, 2004

The first time I ran into "Naming of Parts" was during a poetry workshop, read by one of my classmates who had just gotten out of the army and was readjusting to civilian life. Not to slight the MP3 here, but it was chilling to hear the poem read by a soldier in person.
posted by DaShiv at 5:18 PM on December 8, 2004

I never read the whole thing before. That gave me a terrible shiver. Thanks, JoM.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:02 PM on December 8, 2004

I've never really gone for Reed's serious poetry, but he was a brilliant comic writer: I love the Hilda Tablet plays, and his parody of Graham Greene is flawless:

"This poet, my dear, was a great sinner, you might say. But he was also a little touched with sanctity. Perhaps -- who knows -- all great sinners are."

"Oh, I don't understand all this, Father Tippett. I only know .." She stopped, as if she didn't quite know what it was she only knew. The rain still poured down. Father Tippett waited for her to go on -- you had to wait with the young, however thirsty you were -- you couldn't just send them away.

"I don't understand," she said. "I don't understand," she repeated.

"None of us, except God, can understand everything, my child. And He .. well, it's an old commonplace -- we can only pray it's a true one -- to understand all is to forgive all .. And perhaps God forgives all .."

Wondering what more there was to say, he scratched his groin furtively, then remembered and stopped. He looked down at the young up-turned face, and pity twisted his dry mouth and stomach; it doesn't matter if they are pasty-faced so long as they're young. What a bad priest he was.
posted by verstegan at 8:30 AM on December 10, 2004

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